Ginger Nuts of Horror
by joe x young
If you are the sort of person who won’t watch foreign language films with subtitles then all I can say is that it’s your loss because The Night of the Virgin (or La Noche del Virgen) had me repulsed from beginning to end, when I wasn’t actually laughing that is. I’ll briefly point out a few things that it isn’t.
It isn’t in English. (Spanish with subtitles)
It isn’t short at 2 hours, which really could have been trimmed to 90 minutes with ease.
It isn’t a serious horror. We’re not talking ‘A Serbian Film’ sort of horror, more comedic.
It isn’t subtle either.
That’s about it really, but hey… Not a serious horror? What the actual? Well, the truth about it is that the initial set-up is basic, there’s a somewhat unfortunate guy called Nico (played by the superb Javier Bódalo) who just can’t seem to get laid. It’s New Year’s Eve, he’s been dragged along to a party he obviously feels totally uncomfortable being at, and he’s not exactly the most physically attractive specimen of manliness. Now I know that’s a nasty thing to say, and these days we are supposed to be non-discriminatory about just about everything, but this guy didn’t just fall from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, he looks as if he was forced through a forest of ugly trees by a hurricane. This is somewhat essential to the plot though as he’s an absolute no-hoper, scrawny and buck-toothed with a glassy stare and all of the social grace of a starving lion at a gazelle buffet.
Now before you feel sorry for him it’s quite clear that he’s also something of a sleazebag as he really just has one thing on his mind, to get laid no matter what, so it’s not like he’s going for a proper relationship here or anything.
Within minutes I loved the character, he’s so utterly credible and very tragically funny, so far so good. The ‘friends’ who insisted he goes to the party are a bunch of assholes, goading him about his virginity, which could account for his desperation, however Bódalo’s portrayal is far more nuanced than that, and after a couple of unfortunate attempts he is resigned to failure, until he spots Medea (Miriam Martín) eyeing him up from across the room. She’s a bit of a cougar, but the way he looks at it is a shag is a shag and it’ll stop his peers from harassing him, so with that in mind he leaves the party with her and goes to her apartment.
If any of you are familiar with the comedy film ‘Joe’s Apartment’ then Joe’s place is a like a penthouse suite at the Hilton in comparison to Medea’s place. It’s one of the most disgustingly filthy apartments ever put on film, so hardly a seductive shag pad setting when he is being warned not to step on the cockroaches as it is bad luck. It also starts to get a little long-winded with a lot of chatter about a Nepalese fertility Goddess called Naoshi on which the film pivots.
By now you might be wondering if it’s actually a horror film or one of those piss-poor sex-comedies from days of old like the Lemon Popsicle series, and in a way it is a sex comedy, but absolutely not what I was expecting as it has a lot more in common with Ash vs Evil Dead for gory comedy value. The horror is multi-levelled as we have our unfortunate virgin finding himself in a situation where he just wants to get it over with and pop his cherry then gtfo of the filthy apartment, but Medea has other plans, as does her former boyfriend ‘Spider’ who turns up unexpected and adds to the proceedings. There are many truly embarrassing moments and shifts in tone in what I found to be a somewhat grinding and overlong lead up to the main point, which is a routine sacrifice story with a twist, several twists in fact; however, when it does finally get to the actual horror it becomes an unrelenting nightmare. The plot is somewhat basic, but the way it’s handled is anything but, with the horrifying bloodbath being interspersed with moments of gut-wrenching effects and bodily fluids by the bucket load.
This is ‘extreme horror’, so it’s absolutely not for the squeamish, but just so we are clear about it this is not in the same vein as ‘The Human Centipede’, ‘Antichrist’ or ‘Flowers’, although it does have a similar feel to the latter in the grottiness of the location. This is something very different and although I am certain it’ll readily find an audience amongst connoisseurs of the sub-genre I believe it’ll fall short of the cult-classic status it should have, simply because it’s in Spanish. It has a quirkiness about it which reminded me of another Spanish film ‘Acción mutante’ which also didn’t hold anything back. Director Roberto San Sebastián may not be in the same league as Álex de la Iglesia but with this being his first feature length outing I reckon it’s only a matter of time before he joins the ranks.
Unapologetically crude as well as brilliantly portrayed and technically excellent it’s a film which demands a second viewing, even if only because the first time you watch it there are so many WTF moments that you just have to give it another spin.
WARNING: You absolutely positively have to watch beyond the end credits as it’s not quite done with you.
It is now available on DVD from Matchbox Films and Amazon . Here’s just a taste of what’s in store:
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA